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Sunday, October 09, 2005

Pentagon Pentateuch

“There is no better way for Jews to express their gratitude to America than to place a Torah in the Pentagon, which has preserved our freedom,” said Hank Sopher, a prominent New York real estate magnate and owner of Quik Park garages.

Sopher sponsored the writing of the Pentagon Torah, a first for the home of the U.S. military establishment.

Sholom Lipskar, a Lubavitch rabbi from Bal Harbour, Fla., and founding chairman of the Aleph Institute, presided over Monday’s Torah dedication in the Pentagon chapel. The scroll was placed in an ornate Israeli-built ark whose steel door is secured by a safe lock.

The ark rests in the spot where the 9-11 terrorists crashed the plane.

“Torah is perceived as a source of power and strength,” Rabbi Lipskar said. “We bring the Torah to this chapel, a holy place in the Pentagon, itself a center of power.”

Dozens of personnel from all branches of the military watched in fascination as the scribe, Rabbi Shmuel Wolfman of Jerusalem, completed the last letters of the scroll.

“The Torah is the source of all monotheistic faiths,” said Dov Zakheim, former undersecretary of Defense. “That’s where we all began.”

Rabbi Jacob Goldstein, the New York chaplain of the Secret Service, also attended the celebration. He had returned the day before from hurricane-stricken New Orleans, where he served for three weeks in a tent city at the airport.

In the past two years, Sopher has sponsored two other Torahs, also written by Rabbi Wolfman. One was for The Shul of Bal Harbour, Fla., the other for the Chasam Sopher Synagogue on Clinton Street on the Lower East Side.

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